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The Power of Consumer Activism and the Value of Immunization Registries in a Pandemic


Epidemiologists and public health professionals work to ensure the risk and impact of existing and emerging diseases are minimized and do not turn into a pandemic. Timely and accurate information has become imperative as the world has become more interconnected through travel and technology. Recently, new information systems have played a key role in improving public health’s early warning and case management for disease outbreaks. Improved analytics to predict risk in populations have helped researchers open new doors to disease cures and medicines. The role of technology and public health to support these efforts has become more valuable. Health information systems are traditionally used for electronic medical records or payer billing systems and are not paired with technology advancements. Efforts today to link information and technology to engage consumers are championed by health plans and healthcare providers. Empowering individuals to be proactive when presented with their medical records is not a simple problem to solve. Information must be actionable but it still may not achieve the desired success. What if the health community engaged consumers with a social mission to help them fight disease outbreaks by becoming frontline activists to report occurrences and outcomes, and become intelligent connections to extend the right information to their social networks? This would encourage consumer technology to be better integrated with health information technology with continued investment in sustaining critical public health ecosystems. A large part of health information systems are immunization information systems (IIS) where administered vaccines are documented in a confidential computer based system in a specific geographic area1. The IIS can be used for disease surveillance purposes and provide valuable information to public health authorities2. Recently, MyIR was created where any IIS, pharmacy or provider can provide patients direct access to family immunization records. Providers can communicate to patients using MyIR to increase engagement and send vaccine reminders.

Objective: If public health agencies used direct communication channels to individuals by building on existing immunization networks, the public would receive correct information quicker during a pandemic. Furthermore, there is value that can be leveraged from social networks to advance public health efforts to manage disease events and encourage consumers being more proactive in managing their own health care.

Submitted by elamb on